Skip to content

Ontario fan throws banana at Wayne Simmonds in shameful racist display

Sep 22, 2011, 11:10 PM EDT

Wayne Simmonds AP

In what the NHL calls a “stupid and ignorant” display of racism, at least one fan threw a banana at black Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds during a shootout attempt tonight. Simmonds still managed to score on his attempt, although the Flyers ended up losing that preseason game to the Detroit Red Wings in front of a neutral-site crowd in London, Ontario.

It’s possible that this wasn’t the only time a fan attempted to throw a banana at Simmonds during the game, either. Brian Floyd passes along a fan’s note that someone tried to hit Simmonds with one late in the third period when he scored a 3-3 goal to send the contest to overtime, but that attempt fell short.

Sam Carchidi caught up with Simmonds following the game, who confirmed that it happened but said he didn’t want to make a big deal about it. Here’s a little more from Simmonds on what must have been a strange moment.

“I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact I’m black,” the Toronto native said. “I certainly hope not. When you’re black, you kind of expect (racist) things. You learn to deal with it.”

Simmonds acknowledged the banana rattled him, and his only thought was to get off a shot — which went in for the Flyers’ only score in the shootout.

“It shocked me and knew I had to keep going and get a shot off,” he said. “It was certainly unusual.”

Simmonds deserves credit for shaking it off in such a professional way, but the fan (or fans) should be ashamed for that revolting act. To add an extra level of sadness to an already awful situation, Simmonds is a Scarborough, Ontario native.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time hockey fans have thrown bananas at a black hockey player. Former Carolina Hurricanes goalie Kevin Weekes dealt with the racial epithet during a 2002 series against the Montreal Canadiens.

As far as exchanges between opponents, it’s impossible to know how many slurs fly around during trash talking sessions, although there was at least once incident in which the matter became public. Georges Laraque accused Sean Avery of calling him a “monkey” in 2005, a claim that Avery denied.

Naturally, hockey isn’t the only sport in which fans interact with black players in such a way. (Soccer fans have a reputation of doing so, for example.) That doesn’t make it any less disturbing, especially since it’s far from uncommon to see black players in prominent roles now. Groundbreaking players such as Willie O’Ree and Grant Fuhr have made way for an impressive wave of stars, from Jarome Iginla to Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien.

Obviously, such a ghastly display of racism is discouraging – it’s 2011, after all – but hopefully this will just be an ugly, isolated incident.

Update (10:15 am ET):  NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement regarding the incident.

“We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our
players and for the game. The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one
individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London,
Ontario.”

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Wild’s Backstrom suffered serious nerve damage in elbow

    Jul 6, 2015, 11:22 PM EDT

    Niklas Backstrom AP

    “It happened pretty fast. All of a sudden two fingers are not working.”

  2. Oilers taking Schultz to arbitration

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT

    Justin Schultz Getty Images

    25-year-old defenseman struggled mightily last season.

  3. Coyotes sign No. 3 overall pick Strome to entry-level deal

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:48 PM EDT

    Dylan Strome Dylan Strome

    Connor McDavid’s running mate in Erie was the OHL’s leading scorer last season.

  4. Expansion process underway as NHL sends out applications

    Jul 6, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT

    OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 26:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addresses the media prior to Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 26, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Ottawa Senators by defeating them 2-0 and move to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Quebec City and Las Vegas have already expressed interest.

  5. Caps ink Kuznetsov to two-year, $6 million extension

    Jul 6, 2015, 6:08 PM EDT

    Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Russian forward is coming off a solid rookie campaign.

  6. Bishop Effect: 6-foot-9 goalie ‘trying to make a name for myself’ at Vancouver’s prospect camp

    Jul 6, 2015, 4:29 PM EDT

    JohnMcLean

    That’s him in the blue shirt, standing next to ex-NHL goalie Dan Cloutier… who is 6’1.

  7. Veteran d-man Gervais signs in German League

    Jul 6, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT

    Spent last year with Colorado’s AHL affiliate.

  8. Sabres fill out Bylsma’s staff, hire Lambert away from WHL team

    Jul 6, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT

    2015 Memorial Cup - Championship Getty Images

    His Kelowna Rockets went to the 2015 Memorial Cup.

  9. In pitching free agents, honesty is best policy for Coyotes

    Jul 6, 2015, 12:55 PM EDT

    Don Maloney AP

    “You basically say, ‘I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s a great place to play and we have great fans and a great stadium.'”

  10. Blues add depth on D, sign Benoit

    Jul 6, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT

    Buffalo Sabres v Dallas Stars Getty Images

    Played 59 games for the Sabres last season.

  11. Babcock expects Kadri to be ‘an elite player’

    Jul 6, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT

    Nazem Kadri Getty Images

    “He gets to come in and have a heck of a year and put the screws to us.”

  12. No expansion bid expected from Kansas City

    Jul 6, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v St. Louis Blues Getty Images

    They have the arena, but not the potential owner.

  13. Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million

    Jul 6, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    Tuukka Rask, Shawn Matthias, Dennis Seidenberg AP

    Finished with a career-high 18 goals last season in Vancouver.

  14. Report: Caps, Kuznetsov working on a 2-3 year extension

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    The 23-year-old could be in line for a significant raise.

  15. Jackets’ prospect Oscar Dansk loaned to Swedish club

    Jul 5, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Montreal Canadiens v Columbus Blue Jackets Montreal Canadiens v Columbus Blue Jackets

    He struggled in his first year pro split between the AHL and ECHL.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Voynov (2753)
  2. B. Saad (2504)
  3. R. O'Reilly (2475)
  4. B. Richards (2417)
  5. Z. Kassian (2375)
  1. M. St. Louis (2278)
  2. M. Green (2262)
  3. P. Kessel (2229)
  4. C. McDavid (1895)
  5. J. Allen (1733)